OTTAWA -- A league source has confirmed to the Free Press that the Winnipeg Jets have expressed interest in hosting the next Heritage Classic, which is expected to be played in 2014.
The NHL is expected to study and consider the viability of hosting the outdoor game in Winnipeg.
"Winnipeg will have the benefit of having a suitable outdoor facility," said an NHL source, referring to the new football stadium being built on the University of Manitoba campus and expected to be ready for next summer's CFL season.
The NHL has developed the Winter Classic into a yearly franchise in the U.S. in an attempt to sell the game, but uses the Canadian version known as the Heritage Classic much more sparingly.
The Jets had no comment on the potential of hosting an outdoor game.
For the second night in a row a Canadian NHL city honoured the Jets with a video tribute and welcomed the franchise back to the league. The Senators played some old Jets footage and the Ottawa fans gave it some nice applause, but nowhere near the standing ovation Leafs fans gave the franchise on Wednesday night in Toronto.
By our count, Thursday night's game in Ottawa was the second-best attended road game by Jets fans. Last Sunday in Phoenix there were a about 2,000 fans in Jets gear, there were a few hundred in Toronto on Wednesday and close to 1,000 at Ottawa's Scotiabank Place.
Senators veteran Jason Spezza looked up in the Senators dressing room on Thursday morning and marvelled at the big media crowd. "Boy, it's like the playoffs. The Winnipeg Jets draw a crowd. Haven't seen this much media here in a long time. Pretty cool."
Scotiabank Place has a fluctuating capacity, but the biggest crowd of the year this season was 19,455 in the building. The rink has more than 100 luxury suites, but many are unsold and there is talk the facility is a little large for the city of Ottawa. When the Senators were winners and playoff regulars, the seats were an easy sale. That's not the case at the present and there were many empty seats on Thursday night.
The Senators honoured three former Jets in the building, saying hello to Norm Beaudin, Jim Kyte and Laurie Boschman.
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